Monday, January 19, 2009
Monday Confessional: How high are your expectations for your child?
Max, ace skier
We just got back from an amazing weekend at our friends' rural home. Saturday was frigid, around 15 degrees, but Sunday was a virtual heat wave—25 degrees!—so the kids tried skiing. The mountain we visited participates in an adaptive ski program for the disabled, Stride. Joe, a professional instructor, was on hand to give Max a private lesson. He was a total saint. A skiing saint.
On the car ride up to our friends, I started wondering whether Max would tolerate ski boots. They're clunky and heavy for adults—would he be able to handle them? Would he mind the cold? Would he keep his balance on a pair of skis? I decided that if Max would just let us put the boots on him and he stepped around in the snow for a bit, I would be content. I believe this is what's known as a defense mechanism; I set low-ish expectations, so I won't be disappointed or sad if Max doesn't achieve what we'd like him to. I never let it show. I cheer Max on and say "You can do it!" even if I am not so sure inside my head.
Max was freaked by the frenzy inside the ski lodge and wailed. When we walked over to the rental area to get him ski boots, the very sweet teen guy at the counter took a liking to Max and gave him the royal treatment. The dancing snowman perched on the counter also helped relax him (God bless those corny little gadgets). Suddenly, there was Max clomping around in boots, extremely pleased with himself. When we got him onto skis, he was a little scared. Then he started loving the feel of sliding around on the snow and giggling. He was able to keep the skis parallel, a real feat. I was ecstatic! Once again, he amazed me.
Sabrina, who I thought would love skiing, was a real grouch (see Exhibit A, above). She kept complaining the boots hurt and that she was tired, and lasted maybe a half hour. Max was out for a good hour!
In other events this weekend, Sabrina and I had a bedtime stand-off and she announced, "YOU'RE FIRED!" Where the heck did she pick that up from—Donald Trump? We also discovered this weekend that Max is a chocolate-milk fiend, he drank his body weight in it, a good thing since he's so thin and we'd like to beef him up. We're off to get him gallons of the stuff.
Tell me, do you always set the bar high for your children—or do you sometimes do the low-expectations thing?